[OPE-L:3071] Tasks for TSS

John Ernst (ernst@nyc.pipeline.com)
Sat, 21 Sep 1996 08:23:21 -0700 (PDT)

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This is a brief response to Jerry's latest call
for clarity on how a TSS approach can contribute
to "developing Marx."

In what follows there is no particular order nor
have those taking this approach had a meeting
to agree upon the tasks at hand. Here, I speak
only for myself and, by no means, claim that
the following is all-inclusive.

1. If we are to show that the FRP plays some direct
role in economic life or, in other words, if
capitalists see such a phenomenon prior to a crisis,
then we need to show how that fall takes place.
Here, as I recall, we should note that the manner of
defining the rate of profit is an issue. On this
list, at one point. we had three different definitions.

2. In abstracting from fixed capital in our models, we
remain within much of the tradition of mainstream
economics. It is clear that as Marx developed his own
thinking fixed capital and its turnover would play
a much stronger role than that suggested in the first
book of CAPITAL. To treat fixed capital within the
TSS framework will be no mean feat. On this list,
we have struggled with the notion of "moral depreciation",
capitalists' ability to anticipate new techniques,
capital-saving vs. capital-using technical change, etc.
The issues are unresolved. Thus, we are, at best, in
the rude and early stages of taking into account the
role of fixed capital in developing "the economic law
of motion of modern society."

3. In developing Marx, we will be forced at some point to
drop the assumption in CAPITAL that there is a money
commodity whose value is constant. In so doing we will
also have to deal with an economy in which price inflation
takes place with increases in productivity. Here we may
see vast differences in the way we treat the depreciation
of fixed capital.

4. Too often, TSS adherents have had to consider empirical
work that only examines entire national economies. Yet,
our work on Okishio focuses on the manner in which an
individual capitalist decides to change technique. Thus, we
need studies of that process. On this list, my call for
examples of constant capital-using technical change was
a mere start.

5. We need to examine the role rent plays within Marx's
framework. There are strong suggestions in CAPITAL that
it may retard the devaluation of constant capital to such
an extent that the rate of profit may not be completely
restored even after a crisis and the destruction of

That's my list of today.